The communication solution to managing a crisis

The Government Communication Service (GCS) has published a new suite of learning resources covering crisis management and communications. Governments and state institutions need to be able to react quickly when a crisis strikes, and the skills of communication professionals are often called on to support.

Created by the GCS International team, and used by foreign governments, the new training aims to provide a toolkit for government and state communicators to use when responding to a crisis.

Gerald Mullally, Director of Experts Teams at the Cabinet Office, commented:

“Government communicators face unique challenges in their work, often dealing with crisis situations that develop at pace. This is why understanding the theories behind crisis communication, backed up by real life case studies, is so important.

“I have seen examples of where the work of communication professionals, quite simply, has saved lives. This is often down to planning and forethought, which is why this new training includes practical action to take now to prepare.”

The toolkit provides a whole host of practical training materials that are easy to implement. These cover drafting and implementing crisis communications protocols, correcting inaccuracies in the midst of a crisis, as well as tips on creating digital content, drafting a core narrative and online monitoring. It also provides case studies to demonstrate the impact of crisis communications in action and scenario testing to test whether teams and organisations are as prepared as they can be for likely crises.

The new training forms part of the GCS Curriculum, launched earlier this year, which sets out a clear learning pathway for all professional communicators working in government. It builds on GCS’ existing crisis offer, including the Emergency Planning Framework and emergency planning checklists.

6 tips on communicating in a crisis

  • Understand where your target audience is getting their information from, and identify spokespeople they will trust.
  • Ensure all messaging is clear and consistent; remember to use easy to understand language, avoiding complicated words and long sentences.
  • Define the exact behaviours you want to encourage and create messages with a clear call to action to drive these behaviours.
  • If you are communicating a risk or threat, ensure you follow this up with suggested behaviours that will help people to cope with the threat.
  • Gather insight on how effective your communications are, and change the approach if the data shows it is not working.
  • When people are not listening to messages, try to understand why and what are the barriers, so that they can be changed to messages that do work.